Work Ability Assessment - Questions And Answers

[Information supplied by Work and Income]

What is a Work Ability Assessment?

The assessment looks at a person’s strengths and abilities and anything that may be stopping them from working, and is done by a specialised medical or health professional who is experienced in assisting people into work.  It takes a broad, holistic view of a person’s situation.

What is work ability?

Work and Income talks to all clients to understand their ability to work.  This takes into account things like:

  • the skills and attributes a person brings to the workplace
  • the type of work a person can do, now and in the future
  • the things a person can do at work
  • the number of hours a person can work
  • a person’s confidence to find work.

Who will be referred?

People who are on Jobseeker Support with a health condition, injury or disability (previously Sickness Benefit) may be referred where some specialised advice may be helpful.  These people will have already been working intensively with a case manager to help them look or prepare for work.

Work and Income’s Regional Health and Disability teams will help decide if the person should be referred or if some of Work and Income’s other services would be more useful.

Who does the assessment?

The assessment will be done by suitably qualified medical or health professionals, such as psychologists or occupational therapists, who are experienced in assisting people into work.  

The organisations contracted to do the assessments cover a range of specialties including both larger organisations working across regions or nationally, and smaller providers covering particular areas or groups. There is good geographic coverage, minimising the distance clients need to travel.

Who pays for the assessment and travel costs?

Work and Income pays for the assessment.  If needed, Work and Income can help with transport costs.  

If an interpreter is needed, Work and Income will arrange and pay for this.

Who gets the report?

The Work Ability Assessment will be sent to Work and Income and a copy will be sent to the client and, if they agree, to their GP.

What happens after the assessment?

The case manager and the client will meet and discuss the report and the assessor’s recommendations.  They’ll work out together what the next steps will be to put these recommendations into action.

Any health services required will generally be organised by the client’s GP.

Will a person’s obligations be affected?

In some cases work obligations may change as a result of the information gathered from the assessment. However before making any changes Work and Income will talk to the person and consider all the information it has on the person’s work ability. If work obligations do change, Work and Income will support the person to make those changes.

Will a person lose their benefit because of a Work Ability Assessment?

No, Work Ability Assessment isn’t about benefit eligibility – it’s about getting some additional information to help Work and Income assist their client.  People will continue to receive a benefit as long as they’re still eligible and meeting their obligations.

Do people need to attend a Work Ability Assessment?

If a person has been referred for an assessment they’ll need to attend and participate unless they have a good reason not to.  If they don’t, this may mean they’ve failed to comply with one of their obligations.

If they can’t make the appointment for any reason, they need to let the person completing the assessment know as soon as possible so another time can be made.


If a person has any questions or is concerned about their referral, or the Work Ability Assessment itself, they should talk to their case manager.

If a person is concerned about the way the assessment was conducted or disagrees with the assessor’s report they should talk to their case manager who will follow this up.

If a person disagrees with certain decisions Work and Income makes they have a right to apply for a review by either the Benefits Review Committee or the Medical Appeals Board.